Center Party parliamentary group leader Juha Pylväs went on the rampage Wednesday: “We certainly need in Finland skilled foreigners who can live off their work,” he was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat. “We don’t need surfers and parasites that seek a better standard of living.”
While we could consider Pylväs’ statement in foul taste, Center Party chairperson, Annikka Saarikko, only worsens matters by stating that the large amount of asylum seekers who did not get a residence permit is proof that they aren’t fleeing strife but looking for a better standard of living.
So?! Isn’t that what millions of Europeans did when they emigrated from Europe in the nineteenth and first half of the last century?
Is it a crime to seek a better life? According to many Finnish politicians like Pylväs and Saarikko it is a crime.
Pylväs is a member of the Center Party that uses the same language to label asylum seekers such as the far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS)*. PS MP Mauri Peltokangas, charged with ethnic agitation, calls asylum seekers “surfers” who seek a better standard of living.
Even if the media attributes Pylväs’ xenophobic description of asylum seekers to Peltokangas, the term “welfare shopper” or “surfer” was coined in 2015 by then PS party secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo.
Pylväs knows he’s said the right thing when PS MP Sebastian Tynkkynen, who is being charged for a third time for ethnic agitation, compliments him for his words.
If he were fair, the Center Party MP could tell us what studies he bases his insult on asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse community.
Considering the news coming out of Afghanistan these days, Pylväs’ words are especially insulting and expose what has always been wrong concerning the debate on asylum seekers and migrants.
In the face of these types of inappropriate statements that are possible thanks to Finland’s white political system and media, one could ask why even parties in the government continually fuel suspicion, the hostile environment, and hatred of Finland’s new residents.
Even if the answer is complex, its roots are evident: Finland’s big “R” problem and nationalism.
In the meantime, I can vouch for most asylum seekers, migrants, and minorities living in this country that we are proud of our roots and our accomplishments in this country.